College basketball cheerleaders have to be proficient at many skills, from tumbling, to dancing to basic cheer skills. In fact, many college basketball cheerleaders are more dance team members than anything, performing during time-outs, quarter breaks and for halftime shows.
What It Takes to Cheer for College Basketball
Cheering for college basketball is a bit different than cheering for your local high school team. While every squad is different, and some do more sideline cheers and floor cheers than others, some of the main differences typically include:
- More focus on dance and athleticism
- Sexier uniforms (midriffs are typically bared)
- A bigger focus on dance
- Pom poms are almost always used
- Cheerleaders are more likely to attend away games
- Highly competitive at bigger schools
- Extremely demanding practice schedule
In addition, many college basketball dance teams and/or cheerleaders must learn new routines each and every week. The University of Louisville (UofL) Ladybirds must learn a brand new dance routine each and every week. This means the spirit squad must practice often and rigorously to get the new routine before game time.
Best Known College Basketball Cheerleaders
There are some schools whose cheerleaders seem to stand out above the crowd. These coveted cheerleading spots are highly competitive and the cheerleaders get a lot of recognition. A few of these squads include:
- University of Kansas: Jayhawks cheerleaders are known for being very attractive, but more than that their builds, stunts and routines are nearly flawless.
- University of Tennessee: This university has a "spirit" program that works closely with both the cheerleading squads and dance teams to create motivating school spirit that rouses their teams to victory. Both teams compete on a national level as well.
- University of Kentucky: UK Wildcats cheerleaders are used to winning awards and getting glory for their abilities. To say that tryouts for this team are competitive would be a huge understatement. UK cheer tryouts are brutal, but those who make this squad will be part of a national championship cheer team. Because they win titles, the UK cheerleaders also get a lot of media exposure.
- University of California, Los Angeles: The UCLA Spirit Squad does both dance and cheer. The uniforms are just as cute and fashionable as you'd expect for L.A. and these cheerleaders get tons of publicity.
Trying Out for College Basketball Cheer
If you are thinking about trying out for a college basketball cheerleading squad, then you'll want to prepare by doing some or all of the following:
- Spend some time at the website for the university for which you want to try out. Many sites offer tips for tryouts, schedules and even clinics, which can be invaluable to would-be cheerleaders for that school.
- Try to attend at least one game at which the cheerleaders will be performing, so you can take notes on the skills they feature during their routines and make sure you have similar skills before tryouts.
- If at all possible, view videos of the cheer squad performing. These are often available on the cheerleading website for the university or even on sites like YouTube.
- Try to find someone who has cheered for that squad to coach or mentor you. A cheerleader who has cheered for the school you want to try out for will know all the ins and outs of being on that particular team and may be able to give you tips you otherwise wouldn't get.
As it is with any cheerleading tryouts, a great attitude, beautiful smile and peppy spirit are all musts.
College Cheerleading Is Always Changing
Don't feel limited to what college cheerleaders have always done in the past. Cheerleading is a fluid sport. New stunts and skills are developed from time to time. Be flexible both when serving as a fan of a particular cheer squad or when trying out for a squad and you're certain to experience a true passion for college basketball spirit squads.